The head of the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan stated on Thursday that the government and the Lebanese people will not accept a settlement over the government spending dispute.
He said after holding talks with Prime Minister Najib Miqati: “Our position is clear on any draft-law that does not respect the constitution.”
He added that the Change and Reform bloc will continue its consultations on the matter, hinting that it may reject Finance Minister Mohammed al-Safadi’s draft-law on the government spending.
Kanaan explained that finance records should be uncovered regarding the spending of previous governments.
This issue should be referred to the government Audit Bureau and the Finance and Budget Committee, added the Change and Reform bloc MP.
He continued: “This is our demand and the government should also share this request because it would reflect its respect for the constitution and laws.”
Kanaan later held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri at Ain el-Tineh.
A draft-law aimed at legalizing extra-budgetary spending made by previous governments between 2006 and 2010 is likely to face the rejection of ministers loyal to Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun whose sources claimed they could not study the bill within 48 hours.
The draft-law proposed by Finance Minister Mohammed al-Safadi to find a solution to the controversial spending made by the cabinets of ex-PMs Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri was put on Wednesday on the 30-item agenda of the government.
The cabinet is set to convene on Friday to discuss the draft-law on the 2006-2009 $11 billion spending and a $5 billion spending made in 2010 similar to a $5.9 billion 2011 spending bill that it had adopted and referred to parliament.
Al-Safadi was tasked with preparing the draft-law after March 14 opposition lawmakers boycotted two parliamentary sessions that had the $5.9 billion bill on the agenda. They had conditioned their participation in the sessions to the legalization of the 2006-2010 spending.
But Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc is stressing the need for March 14 to present the accounts of the spending claiming there had been embezzlement.
The bloc’s sources told As Safir daily on Thursday that it was illegal to give cabinet ministers only 48 hours to study the draft-law given that decree 2552 issued in 1992 states that ministers should be informed about the agenda of the government a week before its discussion.
Despite their claims, the government’s by-laws stipulate that ministers should get 48 hours to review the agenda.
But the sources also claimed that Safadi’s draft-law calls for opening additional credits for the 2006-2010 budgets, saying it would be unconstitutional to approve the budgets of these years and increase the credits five years after the end of the 2006 fiscal year.
The draft-law is a constitutional and legal heresy that hasn’t been witnessed in Lebanon before, they told As Safir, warning that the government would be held accountable if it adopts it.
MP Simon Abi Ramia from the Change and Reform bloc also criticized it, telling Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that rather than calling for additional credits, the draft-law should call for a study of the accounts on the spending made by previous governments.
But ministerial sources told An Nahar newspaper that the draft-law was prepared with accuracy and proficiency, saying that the 40-page document wasn’t written within a day or two.
Al-Safadi was tasked with preparing the draft-law on Monday following the collapse of the parliamentary session over the March 14 MPs’ boycott.
Friday’s agenda also includes another draft-law to give the finance ministry treasury loans worth $5.9 billion to cover the expenses of state institutions for 2012.
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